In Defence of a Magic Circle: The Social, Mental and Cultural Boundaries of Play

Jaakko Stenros


This article reviews the history of the concept of the magic circle, its criticism and the numerous other metaphors that have been used to capture the zone of play or the border that surrounds it, such as world, frame, bubble, net, screen, reality, membrane, zone, environment, or attitude. The various conceptions of social, mental and cultural borders are reviewed and identified. Finally, a model is put forward where the psychological bubble of playfulness, the social contract of the magic circle and the cultural game forms are separated.

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